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In the United States, there is a large body of law that governs the relationship between employers and employees. It is broadly referred to "employment law." It governs topics such as safe working conditions, wage and hour issues, employment discrimination, and wrongful termination.

Employment law largely governs employees who are not covered by collective bargaining agreements. This is because those agreements usually provide for protections that go above and beyond what is required by the law, and provide for disputes to be settled in arbitration, rather than court. Employment law is meant to ensure that all employees, even when not governed by collective bargaining agreements, are provided with a safe working environment, and a decent wage.

LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor, , Attorney at Law

Employees in every industry, and at any level of seniority, can face legal issues related to employment. One of the most common legal issues that can come up between employees and employers is wage and hour disputes, particularly related to overtime pay. Under federal law, the standard workweek is 8 hours per day, 5 days per week, for a total of 40 hours per week. Hourly employees must be paid an additional 50% of their hourly wage for every hour they work beyond the standard work week. Sometimes, the requirements get a bit confusing, and an employment attorney is required to settle a dispute, or advise an employer on his or her legal obligations.

Another somewhat common issue in employment law is unlawful discrimination. Under federal law, which applies everywhere in the United States, it is illegal for employers to discriminate against employees based on race, religion, national origin, and gender. Furthermore, many (but not all) states have laws that ban discrimination based on those same factors, plus additional factors, such as sexual orientation, gender identity, and political opinions. An employer located in one of these states is bound by the more comprehensive anti-discrimination law. However, it is considered good practice to avoid discriminating based on these factors in all cases, regardless of whether or not it's actually prohibited under the laws of your state.

Finally, employment attorneys also help deal with cases of wrongful termination, when an employee is terminated for a reason, or in a manner, that violates either state or federal law. It should be noted that, for the most part, employers can fire employees for any reason, or for no reason at all. There are exceptions, however, such as anti-discrimination law discussed above. It is also illegal for employers to fire or discipline employees for refusing to engage in an illegal activity, reporting illegal activity of the employer, bringing an action for discrimination, and reporting an unsafe work condition to a government authority.

If you are an employer or employee, and are facing any type of legal issue that has to do with the employer/employee relationship, you should not hesitate to speak with an employment attorney immediately.

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